Agile Methods

Agile Methods

Posts 1-7 of 7
  • Dr. Wolfgang Richter
    Dr. Wolfgang Richter    Premium Member
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    Hi

    I would like to hear opinions to the thought about doing agile projects in a company with a functional organizational structure, in other words, with the authority located in the line rather than in the project. Is it possible in such an environment to apply agile approaches successfully, or is it a given fact, that projects will fail there? Which other organizational structures would fit better?

    Cheers, Wolfgang Richter
  • Stefan RoockStefan Roock is a contact of your contacts
    Stefan Roock    Premium Member   Group moderator
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    Hi Wolfgang
    you will get a matrix like organization with its pros and cons. It is possible to be successful with agile approaches in these organizations if you have a clear and reliable deal between the functional authorities and the project leaders / product owners.

    That means especially that the functional authorities must commit on not pulling off ressources in an ad-hoc fashion. That would compromise the commitment of the team.

    Stefan


    Wolfgang Richter wrote:
    Hi
     
    I would like to hear opinions to the thought about doing agile projects in a company with a functional organizational structure, in other words, with the authority located in the line rather than in the project. Is it possible in such an environment to apply agile approaches successfully, or is it a given fact, that projects will fail there? Which other organizational structures would fit better?
     
    Cheers, Wolfgang Richter
  • Andreas Thiel
    Andreas Thiel
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    Hi Wolfgang,

    this kind of project setup is not doomed by default, but beware some potential conflicts.

    Stefan already mentioned the problem of daily duties of the team members. The team members have two bosses - it is a dilemma when you have to choose which of them you refuse obedience to... A good strategy for this kind of issue is to maintain an impediment list - make these distractions visible/transparant.

    Another problem which I have witnessed in such circumstances concerns the desirable "generalizing specialists" role of the team members. In a functional organization, you often find departments like "databases", "GUIs", etc.
    In an agile team, ideally every team member works an every kind of task - in the long term, this causes a lot of productivity gains. But this desired attitude sometimes collides with the personal goals of the team members, which want to excel in their special discipline - "I'm an oracle expert. I don't want to become a mediocre GUI programmer." To solve this problem, IMHO the team member itself has to see a perspective (something like "job enlargement"?), but in the long term, an organizational change seems to be necessary whichs stops rewarding such an over-specialization.

    Regards,
    Andreas
  • Andreas Schliep
    Andreas Schliep    Premium Member   Group moderator
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    If you are really applying Agile to the teams, you do NOT have a resulting matrix structure. One of the characteristics and main problems of the matrix structure is the application of command and control from both line and project organization.

    You have to be explicit about the roles and resposibilities:

    - The functional manager can act as resource (people) provider, mentor, technical guide and scheduler.
    - The team organizes itself according to the project needs.
    - The customer / product owner directs the product development contents and priorities, not the speed and not the people.
    - The coach / project coordinator / ScrumMaster takes care about the process and everything that blocks it.

    This approach requires cooperation and constructive conflict. It's difficult, but it's also different from the matrix organisation form that does not facilitate self-organization, emergence and transparency.

    Andreas
  • Dr. Wolfgang Richter
    Dr. Wolfgang Richter    Premium Member
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    Andreas Schliep wrote:
    If you are really applying Agile to the teams, you do NOT have a resulting matrix structure. One of the characteristics and main problems of the matrix structure is the application of command and control from both line and project organization.
     
    You have to be explicit about the roles and resposibilities:
     
    - The functional manager can act as resource (people) provider, mentor, technical guide and scheduler.
    - The team organizes itself according to the project needs.
    - The customer / product owner directs the product development contents and priorities, not the speed and not the people.
    - The coach / project coordinator / ScrumMaster takes care about the process and everything that blocks it.
     
    This approach requires cooperation and constructive conflict. It's difficult, but it's also different from the matrix organisation form that does not facilitate self-organization, emergence and transparency.
     
    Hi

    I tend to agree with this view. What would you call such a structure? Can it exist under a pure functional structure and if yes, what are the restrictions? I mean, can a project team then only consist of people from the same department/division? Who would be the disciplinary head of the Scrum Master?

    Cheers, Wolfgang
  • Andreas Schliep
    Andreas Schliep    Premium Member   Group moderator
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    Wolfgang Richter schrieb:

     
    I tend to agree with this view. What would you call such a structure?

    I don't know. Intermediate maybe... the step before you learn how to organize in feature teams.

    Can it exist under a pure functional structure and if yes, what are the restrictions? I mean, can a project team then only consist of people from the same department/division? Who would be the disciplinary head of the Scrum Master?

    A Scrum team can consist of people of many departments. I don't care who would be the disciplinary head of the ScrumMaster. The ScrumMaster should not care either. It's a special role tending to break traditional functional structures by itself.

    Some companies institute a Scrum Center or Scrum office. The ScrumMaster could belong to QM/QA. He/she could remain a developer, team lead, whatever.

    There are only individual solutions, no general rules about this.

    Andreas
  • Dr. Wolfgang Richter
    Dr. Wolfgang Richter    Premium Member
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    A Scrum team can consist of people of many departments. I don't care who would be the disciplinary head of the ScrumMaster. The ScrumMaster should not care either. It's a special role tending to break traditional functional structures by itself.
    Well, I believe, this is one of the key-points, why sometimes companies fail to transition to an agile environment. Maybe you do not care, but in fact a transition includes also the change of the organizational structure or the attempt to adjust it to fit into an agile environment. If due to some circumstances the functional structure cannot be broken, but still teams want to follow an agile approach, it is crucial to find a way out of this dead-end. I do not agree, that part of the role-definition of a Scrum-Master is to break a structure. In fact, I did some research in this area, but have not found a single publication dealing with this circumstance. From my point of view, this is a gap.

    Some companies institute a Scrum Center or Scrum office. The ScrumMaster could belong to QM/QA. He/she could remain a developer, team lead, whatever. There are only individual solutions, no general rules about this.
    Well, maybe there should be a set of rules or options, which might work, and another set of options, which definitely do not work. And we are not only talking about Scrum-Masters here. In other methods different roles for the same position need to be considered as well. Agile Project Management tries to define some things, which are important for the proper function of a company, but still there is this gap between project management, agile methods and mangement, which needs to be filled somehow.

    Wolfgang
 
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